When it was announced that Adam Oates was going to interview for the Capitals head coaching position I thought for sure he'd get the job. For the past few weeks I've said I'd be shocked if he didn't get it and even stated that since the Capitals had the 77th pick in the draft last weekend that it was an omen that the team would bring back their former captain to coach the team.
Today, hours before the announcement was made that Adam Oates would be inducted to the Hall of Fame, the team made the official announcement that he would be the team's coach and outside of bringing back Ron Wilson or Terry Murray I don't know if the Caps fans could really be any happier. Having been the team's captain Oates will be able to help Ovechkin with his leadership. He has a great hockey mind and should be able to do a good job of conveying his message and teachings to the team. He coached the Power Play in New Jersey, an area the Capitals struggled this past year. Like Hunter, Oates not only played in the NHL, he played in DC and the players will listen to him more and more intently because he's been where they've been and he's been where they want to be....playing for the Cup...though he didn't win it as a player and holds the record for most points in the playoffs without winning it all. In addition I hope that with Kolzig already in tow, maybe he'll keep Jim Johnson on staff, maybe he'll look to have Calle Jo and Bonzai or other former Caps be a part of the coaching staff or mentors.
The most important part of his hiring though could be the fact that Oates is one of the NHL's all-time leaders in face-off win percentage. Oates will be able to pass along his techniques to Backstrom, MoJo, Laich and whoever else the team has in the dot this season beyond Ribeiro.
While much will be made about this being his first head coaching gig, I do believe that Oates is ready. When you think about it as players get older and in their final years of playing they do more of an on-ice coaching job with their teammates. They may not be doing the X's and O's and they may not be doing the line-ups but they have some of the best minds in the game and it can help with the transition from the ice to the bench. Plus the past few years as an assistant should have him ready.
The draft got me excited for the season to begin...a season that may never happen if a new labor deal isn't struck. These guys need to sit down and hammer something out. Learn from the NBA's and NFL's mistakes and avoid a work stoppage or lockout or whatever else you want to call it. Hockey has finally recovered from the lost season 8 years ago. This sport, this league, these players...they can't afford to go through this again, not at a time when unemployment is high, money is tight for everyone, and millionaire athletes and billionaire owners are squabbling over money that's generated from the fans hard earned income.